Defra, the Welsh Government, the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales have been consulting on proposals to withdraw most of the current statutory exemptions from the system of water abstraction licensing (consultation closes 8 April 2016).  This will result in most such abstractions (with limited exceptions for low risk abstractions) being subject as 'New Abstractions' for the first time to water abstraction licensing, a process which is intended to start in 2016.

The proposals will affect –

  • transferring water from one inland water system to another by a navigation, harbour or conservancy authority;
  • abstraction of water into internal drainage districts;
  • dewatering mines, quarries and engineering works;
  • warping;
  • all forms of irrigation (other than spray irrigation, which is already licensable), and the use of land drainage systems in reverse (including transfers into managed wetland systems) to maintain field water levels;
  • geographically exempt areas; and
  • the majority of abstractions covered by Crown and visiting forces exemptions.